Gamers more prone to spam and phishing

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Gamers beware - you're 50 percent more likely to suffer spam and phishing attacks than other social network users.

The reason, says BitDefender, is the way gamers are often willing to add any old Joe to their friends list if it gives them more people to play with or wins them higher scores.

BitDefender tested its theory by creating three false accounts  - one with no photo and little information, one with a pic and some info, and one which added more detail. It then signed them up to a generic interest group.

As you might expect, the more information, the more friends: after an hour, the three profiles had 23, 47 and 53 connections respectively.

However, BitDefender then tried the same trick with a games group - and found that players were a much more sociable bunch. After an hour, the first profile had 85 connections, the second 108 and the third 111.

They were also pretty trusting. A shortened URL posted without any explanation on each honeypot profile was followed by 24 percent of the friends from the three accounts, even though they didn't know who posted it and where it led.

"Users are more likely to accept spammers in their friends list when they are in a social network than in any other online communication environment," said George Petre, BitDefender threat intelligence team leader.

"This fact brings spam and social engineering schemes closer to the user than any e-mail spam or online scam. Moreover, we have seen that in a social applications environment, users can easily be tricked to add spammers to their profile. Thus, we recommend social gaming aficionados use extreme caution before enlarging their circle of friends."